When I was a teenager working at the Yucca Valley Kentucky Fried Chicken, the owner, Mr. Shisler, once told me a story. He was driving down the Morongo Grade on Highway 62 between Yucca Valley and Desert Hot Springs when a bighorn sheep ran next to his car for a few seconds, then darted up the mountains. A few years later on a field trip in a class I was taking at College of the Desert, we traveled up Highway 74 between Palm Desert and Idyllwild and saw many agave sprouts that our professor told us had been eaten by bighorn sheep. But I still had never seen one in the wild.
Years later, hiking to Barker Dam in Joshua Tree National Park, I finally saw my first few bighorn sheep. I had seen deer in JTNP many times from my car in the area of Blackrock Campground and La Contenta Road, but sheep had always previously seemed to elude me.
A few years ago I was headed up the Morongo Grade between Desert Hot Springs and Morongo Valley on Highway 62 and I saw my first bighorn sheep on the grade. Since that day, I’ve seen them several times – with the most recent sighting just a few days ago. I had to drive down the hill towards Palm Springs, and I saw bighorn sheep on the east side of the road but could not turn around for a few miles due to the concrete median. I know now from my own experiences and speaking with others, that the sheep like to hang out there in the spring and fall, so I look for them. When I encountered them just a few days ago I turned around and headed back up the hill and saw again the herd I had just seen going down the hill only a few minutes ealier. My first pictures were taken with my cell phone, then I used my Lumix Camera. Here are the pictures from these encounters on the Morongo Grade a few days ago and some from other times; I hope you enjoy them. I can’t always stop to take pictures, but I have seen them half a dozen times in this area. This was the biggest herd I have seen so far.
I’ve included a few cell phone pictures I took on the way to Laughlin, Nevada, apparently they like to hang out near Kelbaker Road and Interstate 40 as well. The quality of these pics is low unfortunately; all I had was a cell phone camera.
I’ve enlarged a few photos – the horizontal line you see going through some of them is a power line.
The moral of the story is, you can enjoy nature from a car. If you are disabled or incapacitated in any way, you can still keep your eyes open, you never know what you might see.
Take It Easy – Mojave